Posts Tagged ‘Mario Gomez’

Joachim Löw’s “cheeky” tinkering paid off as Germany cruised past Greece and into the Euro 2012 semi finals.

In stark contrast to the Eurozone, this was Germany progressing at the expense of the Greeks. The onlooking Angela Merkel must have revelled in the irony.

Löw made four changes to the starting XI that had defeated Denmark, with Jerome Boateng coming back in for Lars Bender, and Miroslav Klose, Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle replacing Mario Gomez, Thomas Müller and Lukas Podolski.

It worked a treat, as goals from Klose and Reus, as well as Sami Khedira and captain Philipp Lahm helped Germany to a 4-2 win.

Germany dominated the opening exchanges, with Greece happy to sit back and defend. After having an early goal disallowed, it was a question of when, not if they’d score.

And when Lahm but them ahead with an excellent long-range effort after 39 minutes, it was a question of how many.

However, the next goal did not go the way of the Germans. A swift counter-attacking move from Greece ended with Georgios Samaras prodding home.

It was to be a brief respite though, with Germany back ahead just six minutes later. A ball from Boateng fell to Khedira, who had been quietly impressive once again, and he smashed it home with aplomb.

The game was well and truly over when Klose added to his already astonishing international recording, heading home a Mesut Özil corner for his 64th goal for die Mannschaft.

There was still time for Reus to get on the scoresheet, hammering the ball past a less-than-impressive Michalis Sifakis in the Greek net.

When Jerome Boateng handled in the area in the 89th minute, Dimitris Salpingidis stroked home the resulting penalty. It mattered not.

This was Germany’s most impressive performance to date, albeit against the weakest side they’ve faced. They will play either Italy or England in the semi final.

Given bringing in Klose, Reus and Schurrle was supposedly ‘weakening’ the side, I don’t think they’ll be too bothered who they have to face, and you’d expect them to continue their march to a possible repeat of Euro 2008s final with Spain.

Speaking to Uefa.com after the game, ‘Jogi’ Löw had this to say: “First of all, I would like to say it was a fantastic performance from our team. For the fourth time in a row, we have qualified for the semi-final of a major tournament. Nobody thought we could have done that back in 2004. We have won 15 games in a row. We are the youngest team at this tournament and have great prospects for the future. I am proud of my players. We absolutely deserved to win tonight.

“Greece scored two goals out of one chance. We were good from the start but perhaps the only thing I can say is that we didn’t take advantage of our chances early on. I was irritated at that stage and my emotions are expressed at times like that.

“After three wins here, I wasn’t dissatisfied with my team in the slightest, but I had been planning on making the changes to the lineup for a while. I thought we had to be unpredictable against Greece, because I felt they would be ready for us. It is good to be cheeky like that from time to time. I thought the plan worked out quite well. Looking ahead, I think the four teams in the semi-finals will be serious contenders for the title. We know from now on games of this magnitude are decided by small details, and we can’t allow a single mistake.”

Germany all but sealed qualification to the quarter finals of Euro 2012 with a 2-1 victory over old rivals the Netherlands.

A first half brace from Mario Gomez was enough to secure the win for Joachim Löw’s men, despite Robin van Persie pulling a goal back in the last quarter of the game.

Both sides created chances early on: van Persie shot straight at Manuel Neuer when put through; Mesut Özil hit the post.

Like Germany’s goal against Portugal, their opener was made by Bastian Schweinsteiger, and finished with aplomb by Gomez.

Schweinsteiger strode through the middle of the park unchallenged, teeing up his teammate to turn superbly and fire past Maarten Stekelenburg.

The movement of Germany was too much for Holland to handle, with Müller, Özil, Schweinsteiger and Khedira all proving too difficult for the Oranje to pick up.

It was this that led to the first goal, and so it was for the second. Once more it was Schweinsteiger who orchestrated it, and once more it was Gomez who finished it, with another cool strike past Stekelenburg.

Bert van Marwijk changed things up at half time, going more offensive with the introduction of Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

They certainly looked sharper going forward, and looked more than capable of getting a goal back.

However, pulling two back – and preventing Germany from scoring again – looked beyond them. They managed the second; they could not do the first.

Germany were still hitting them on the counter-attack, perhaps sensing the need to attack in the face of a possible Dutch onslaught. Defender Mats Hummels forced a double save from Stekelenburg.

Holland did get a goal – their first of the tournament – when van Persie turned away from his man and shot through the legs of Holger Badstuber and past Neuer.

It gave them hope, briefly, but it was not enough and the Germans held on to their lead.

Joachim Löw, speaking to Uefa.com after the game, said: “With this victory I think we’ve opened the door to the quarter finals. It’s now in our hands to make everything clear on Sunday [against Denmark].

“It was a very intense game today, a very tight game. The temperatures were extreme and it was difficult to keep a high tempo for the whole match. We did really well defensively as Holland’s game is to play on the attack – they have four or five top guys up there.

“What is clear in this so-called group of death is that we’ve already got six points. There is always room for analysis after a game, though.

Germany put an early nail into Portugal’s coffin with a 1-0 win in the opening round of fixtures in the ‘group of death’.

A Mario Gomez header was enough to hand the nationalmannschaft victory, as they cemented their billing as favourites to top the group.

It was Portugal who fired the first warning shot though, serving as a reminder that they were anything but underdogs. Fabio  Coentrao wove through the German defence, although – as has often been the problem for 2004s runners-up – he had no end product.

Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski both had half chances for the Germans, before the former actually put the ball in the net. However, play was brought back for a foul on Mesut Özil, and the resulting free kick could not replicate the goal they’d been denied.

Germany’s focus was on the counter-attacking and quick transitions that had served them so well at the World Cup two years ago, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira – now aided by Dortmund defender Mats Hummels – linking up defence and attack to good effect.

However, while they enjoyed plenty of possession, with Podolski and Özil looking in particular lively, the failed to carve out any real chances.

That was almost punished on the stroke of half time, when a corner fell to Pepe. He curled it towards the top corner in a strike you wouldn’t normally associate with the no-nonsense, oft-insane defender. His shot bounced off the underside of the bar and onto the line. Despite Portuguese protests, it was deemed not to have crossed the line – which TV replays proved to be the correct decision.

Germany came out quickest after the break (figuratively speaking, I actually have no idea which team was back on the pitch first), with Thomas Müller causing problems down the right.

For Portugal, while Pepe went close in the first half, it was the other two-thirds of their Real Madrid trio – Coentrao and, more pertinently, Ronaldo – who looked the most likely to make something happen.

It was Jerome Boeteng charged with stopping the world’s second best player, and he managed to do so twice in succession – albeit in very different ways. First, a brilliant challenge; second, he had to resort to harsher methods, picking up a yellow card in the process.

It was, though, the Germans who took the lead with a goal scored in Ukraine, but made in Munich. Schweinsteiger’s deflected cross was met by the head of Gomez and, as he did 41 times for Bayern last season, he found the net.

That was to be Gomez’s last contribution, as Joachim Löw sent on birthday boy Miroslav Klose.

It may have been Ronaldo who looked the most dangerous (no mean feat for a player who seemingly changed his hairstyle at half time), but it was 20-year-old Nelson Oliviera who had the best opportunity to equalise. He latched on to Ronaldo’s pull back across the box, only to be denied by the imposing figure of Manuel Neuer.

Germany held on to claim an all-important victory, in a group where one win could be enough to see a side through.

After a game with the 10th best side in the world (according to FIFA, anyway), you’d think things might get easier. Their next game: Holland, ranked 4th. Although in fairness, against Denmark they were just rank, and Germany will not be losing any sleep over the prospect of facing Oranje.

Player of the Season

Robert Lewandowski: Only Mario Gomez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar bettered the Pole’s return of 22 Bundesliga goals this term, not bad for a man who started the season as second-choice striker for Borussia Dortmund. His goals, assists and link-up play as the lone striker have been an integral part of The Borussians title success. So much so, in fact, that Lucas Barrios, the man whose injury gave Lewandowski his chance, has been sold to Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Evergrande.

Eurosport’s Ian Holyman said: “22 goals is a great return for a man who started the season as second-choice to Lucas Barrios. The Pole seized his opportunity wonderfully when Barrios returned injured from the Copa America, and I think gave Dortmund more as their lone striker than the Paraguayan did in 2010-11.”

Young Player of the Season

Marco Reus: He’ll be a teammate of Lewandowski next season, having agreed back in January to play in the black and yellow of Dortmund from next season, with a fee of around £17.5m reported to have been paid for his services. If he carries on from this season, that will be an absolute bargain. Only Gomez, Huntelaar and Lewandowski have more ‘points’ in terms of goals and assists combined, with Reus delivering 18 goals and 9 assists for Monchengladbach – a remarkable return for a 22-year-old, and one that played a huge part in The Foals securing a Champions League spot.

Ian Holyman said: “Sensational for Mönchengladbach…He’s a player who I think will receive wider acclaim at EURO 2012, where he isn’t likely to start, but will be explosive when he comes off the bench.”

Manager of the Season

Jurgen Klopp: While honourable mentions must go to Lucien Favre (‘Gladbach) and Christian Streich (Freiburg) et al, Klopp deserves this for leading Dortmund to back-to-back league titles for the first time since the mid-90s. His role in the success of the side, and the development of youngsters like Mario Gotze, cannot be underestimated, and his reputation is now such that his name is linked with almost every top managerial vacancy. However, you’d imagine he’ll be at Dortmund for the forseeable (and very bright) future.

“Managed to find the rights words to inspire his team to hold off Bayern, who invested heavily last summer, once again.” – Ian Holyman.

Team of the Season (4-2-3-1)

Ter-Stegen; Piszczek, Hummels, Dante, Lahm; Bargfrede, Kroos; Harnik, Kagawa, Reus; Lewandowski.

Do you agree? Should someone else have won? Shocked Huntelaar was left out of the team of the season? Leave a comment and let us know…

Germany’s most successful side take on Europe’s, as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid revive an old rivalry.

Munich have won the Champions League four times – more than any other German side; Madrid have won it nine times – more than any other side in history. Neither, however, have done so in ten years.

Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes is no stranger to this competition, or to Real Madrid: he led Los Blancos to the Champions League title back in 1998. His opposite number, Jose Mourinho, has won this competition twice: firstly, with Porto in 2004, and then with Inter in 2010, when they beat the Bavarians in the final.

Bayern aren’t exactly heading into this game in the best form. On Saturday, they were held to a 0-0 draw with Mainz, in a rather dull encounter. More pertinently, they lost to Dortmund last Wednesday, and also lost any chance they had of winning the title.

By contrast, things are going extremely well for Madrid. On Saturday, they brushed off Sporting Gijon with a fairly routine 3-1 win. Last Wednesday, they stuck four past their city rivals Atletico, and they’re currently four points clear of Barcelona in La Liga.

Having both rested players at the weekend, neither side has any real injury concerns. Bastian Schweinsteiger may not be fully match fit, but such is his importance that he is likely to start.

There are likely to be a few key battles throughout the pitch, not least if Mourinho decides to pit Cristiano Ronaldo against the young Austrian David Alaba, who is in line to start at left back.

Similarly, Bayern’s biggest threats could come from out wide, with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben – who has a point to prove against the club that sold him – coming up against the solid if unspectacular Alvaro Arbeloa and the attack-minded Marcelo.

Mario Gomez is the second highest scorer in the Champions League this season, with 11 goals (only Lionel Messi has more), while the in-form Karim Benzema may just get the nod over Gonzalo Higuain.

The odds seem to be in the favour of Madrid, something supported by Edson Karimi of Bayern blog Red Robbery. He said: “Real Madrid play the second leg at home, have a deeper squad and can win dirty whereas Bayern need the lead, struggle to play well without the ball and haven’t been in a good form recently.”

His sentiments were echoed by Corey Fiske, of Real Madrid Football Blog, who said: “I am very confident in the match, but I would not go so far as to say we will make the final. Being favorites is fine, but I will not say we will win the tie, only that I like our chances and given Bayern’s loss to Dortmund and draw to Mainz, their loss of the league title yet again has to give Real Madrid a psychological advantage. Then again, if Real were to lose the Clasico sandwiched in between the two legs, the tables could turn. It should be a great tie, and I am looking forward to it.”

Let the games begin…

Prediction: 1-2

 

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